NBA 2K13 has been out for a little over two days now and I’ve been playing it for as many hours as possible. There are plenty of reviews out there calling NBA 2K13 the best basketball game ever and I think that sounds about right.
It didn’t take long to realize playing this game that it is in a class by itself. You have as much control as ever in a basketball video game and combine that with the improved physics and player logic and NBA 2K13 is the closest thing to an actual NBA game.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the highlights of the game. After making it to the NBA Finals last season and establishing themselves as one of the best teams in the league, NBA 2K13 took notice putting more detail into Thunder players and rewarding the team with very high ratings.
Kevin Durant of course is the face of the Thunder and NBA 2K13 being one of the players on the cover. You can make the argument that Durant is quite simply the best player in NBA 2K13. As a shooter, there is no one really close. His range makes him a threat once he crosses half court and he is skilled enough to make shots just about anywhere in the half court set. Durant is listed at 6-foot-9 in the game but plays like his real life taller, lengthier self. He can finish at the rim because of this as well as anyone and his height makes him a solid passer as well. There’s still something about Durant’s shot that just doesn’t feel quite right. There’s a little hitch in it or something where in real life it’s as smooth as anyone’s in the league. It’s close enough though and doesn’t take away from playing with him.
Durant has the perfect video game running mate in Russell Westbrook who is without question a top five player in this game. Westbrook is probably the best point guard because an equal athlete, there is not in NBA 2K13. Staying in front of Westbrook is a battle you will never win in NBA 2K13. Couple Westbrook’s quickness and strength with his automatic mid range jumper and just like in real life, there are some possessions where you bring the ball up with Westbrook, don’t pass and take a shot with him. He has all the talent in the world and 2K gives him it. His handle may be a little overrated in the game too which makes him just that much better. Defensively all you need is the physical tools in a video game to be dominant and Westbrook of course has that making him elite on that end of the floor as well.
James Harden completes OKC’s big three. NBA 2K13 rated Harden just an 81 overall (5 points lower than Ginobili) but he plays like a superstar nonetheless. Harden is rated 86 on his 3-point shot and is pretty automatic when left open. His handle is solid too and his ability to finish at the rim (which is among the best in the NBA in real life) is represented quite nicely in NBA 2K13 as well. Harden is a mast in the pick-and-roll and getting to the rim using the euro step. You can pull off all of his moves in NBA 2K13 and make the sweet drop off bounce passes to cutting bigs as well. One thing that is not in the game is an effective way to hand the ball off on certain plays. This is a little disappointing for Harden because of the two-man game he always runs with Nick Collison that involves a handoff at times. Other than that, Harden makes the Thunder big three quite possibly the best in the game.
Serge Ibaka blocked more shots per game than anyone in about a decade last season. He isn’t rated a 99 for blocking shots so the 96 2K game him will have to do. Ibaka is a big presence in the paint still, maybe even more so than in real life. He obviously can swat shots as well as anyone and is a better post defender in the game than in the real world. Ibaka is even more overrated on offense. His legitimately good mid range jumper is there but he is also very adept at finishing inside. It’s not that he isn’t in real life but in 2K with the Thunder, it’s not hard to go for 20 with Ibaka if scoring with big men is your thing.
Kendrick Perkins has a lot of value for doing the little things on a basketball court. NBA 2K13 does a great job bringing that to the digital hardwood this year for Perkins. Perkins sets some of the best screens in the game which is very useful in getting Durant, Westbrook or Harden open. He is also an overrated finisher on offense in the game and isn’t a terrible option to pass to in the pick-and-roll game. Defensively, Perkins is very solid as well receiving the signature skill of defensive anchor and acting the part too.
The rest of the Thunder players got a little bump in their ratings it seems due to the team’s trip to the Finals last year. This is what happens in video games and there’s probably nothing wrong with that. Eric Maynor and Daequan Cook are very reliable 3-point shooters, Collison grabs offensive boards as well as anyone and Thabo Sefolosha is one of the best options in the game to lock up Kobe or Wade. All of this adds up to the Thunder being one of the best teams in the game and maybe even the best. No team is better at scoring in isolation settings than OKC and that’s what video game basketball is all about. The one weakness the Thunder may have is scoring from the post but that is easily forgotten when you get out and run with these guys. The Heat have their big three, the Lakers have Howard and Nash now but if you want to have the best chance against either of those teams, OKC is the team of choice and that’s why they are the best in the game.